After Derek Jeter announced last week via his Facebook account that the 2014 season would be his final one in pinstripes, his back-up at shortstop had to begin mentally preparing to be one of the most unwanted members of the New York Yankees. Brendan Ryan was acquired last season in an attempt to shore up the defense for the injured Jeter, who was held to only 17 games last year due to a failed rehab and re-break of his ankle. Ryan was then resigned this past offseason to provide defensive insurance for Jeter in case the soon to be 40-year-old is once again injured, or simply needs rest during his final go-around in the Bronx.
Ryan is well aware that he isn’t going to be popular with Yankees fans this season. People are lining up across the country to purchase tickets to see the Yankees’ starting shortstop one last time, but there will be days when Ryan’s name in on the lineup card. Ryan already has a plan to deal with upset fans: “Embrace the boos.” Ryan says the praise and appreciation from his teammates is all that matters. “I’ve been booed before…Who cares?” Ryan’s role on the roster is purely glove-related. He is a career .237 hitter who has hit below the “Mendoza Line” in each of the past two seasons. The Yankees brought him back on a 2-year deal worth $4 million dollars.
Ryan also knows that Jeter isn’t a big fan of coming out of games or taking days off, but said: “I don’t know if Derek is going to be all that fired up to come out of games, if that is what we are talking about…I don’t know. It is a tough one. Every guy has a lot of pride in this clubhouse. I don’t think that is something that he is going to be in favor of. He doesn’t have the [manager's] office, so he is not going to have that last call. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
No matter what the situation is for Brendan Ryan in 2014, he continues to be grateful for the chance to return to a team that has a chance to win, and whenever manager Joe Girardi calls upon him to play, he will be ready. He knows that his playing time will be dictated by how Jeter is feeling, but is also aware that there is a bigger picture to think about. If Ryan can raise his offensive performance back to his days in St. Louis (he hit .292), then the chance to be the starter at shortstop in 2015 will present itself saying “If I’m hitting .270 with the defense, I can not only help this team, I can help any team.” He and hitting coach Kevin Long are going back to basics in reconstructing his swing. Ryan was expected to hit for power and try to do so in his previous stop in Seattle, but that is no longer the game plan.